Showing posts with label In the Laundry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label In the Laundry. Show all posts

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Ditching the Tumble Dryer

by Gavin from The Greening of Gavin and Little Green Cheese

I have a confession to make.  We had an electric tumble dryer!  It used to use to be rated at 1800 watts on the warm setting and 2200 watts on the hot setting.  Such a guzzler of electricity, and it was the cause of some very high winter electricity bills.

The good news is that it broke over a year ago when the element burnt out, and I only took it off the wall a few weeks ago and took it to the metal recyclers.

The even better news is that we did not replace it with another electric clothes dryer, even though our clothes drying needs have not changed.  We still need to dry clothes when it is raining, or cold in winter, or humid in summer.

The best news of all is that we have learnt a few tricks and tips that we can now share with you, now that we have managed to go dryer free for over a year.  Here they are.
  1. Don't replace the broken dryer.  Billions of people on the planet survive without this energy wasting device.  You will save a stack of money by avoiding the purchase, have lower electricity bills, and a much lower carbon footprint.  Even if you use GreenPower, you are still saving loads of money.
  2. Look for a good airer/clothes rack/horse that holds at least one load of washing.  We bought two for those big washing days.
  3. Use solar passive in winter to dry your clothes indoors.  We put the airers into the front room which we close off and it gets nice and toasty in there.  It drys the clothes in a day or so and you don't have to brave the elements to hang them out. 
  4. If you use a heater of some sort in the winter evenings, then place the clothes airer a safe distance away from the heat source.  Your clothes will be dry by morning.
  5. Plan ahead.  If you know the kids need their school uniforms for Monday, then do a quick load on eco-mode (don't forget the soap nuts) and load up the airer on Friday night.  They will be dry by Sunday.
  6. String up some cord beneath an under cover outdoors area, preferably one that gets a good breeze.  Your laundry will be dry in a day, even when it is wet outside.   If it is sunny, then use the hills hoist if you have one.
  7. Install a retractable clothes line in your laundry using the space that used to be taken up by the dryer!
  8. Celebrate your successful transition from clothes dryer addict to green, clean, laundry machine.
Here are some pictures of our laundry drying techniques.  Simple yet effective.
    Clothes Airer
    Undercover clothes line

    Retractable indoor clothes line (in)

    Retractable indoor clothes line (out)
    I give most of the credit to my wife Kim, who could have just told me to go and buy a new one when our old dryer broke, but it was her idea to try life without the electric dryer, so I did not suggest otherwise.  Well done to her for going against the grain of the normal societal trend.

    Dry clothes the natural way is the only way to go.  Our electricity bill has never been so low in winter, and our clothes last longer and don't have that static cling you get from using a dryer.

    Have any of you ditched the dryer and switched to indoor or outdoor methods?

    Saturday, 18 June 2011

    Line drying in the winter (what's the big deal?)

    by Eilleen

    Hello everyone!

    I hope you are all well. I can't help but smile at recent posts lately about summer. I think its wonderful that we have so many writers here from all over the world and I get to enjoy their excitement of a warmer season.

    As I sit here in the middle of the day, its currently 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Farenheit). Yep its winter here at my nation's capital. :) I don't mind winter. I actually prefer it to heat but winter does have its challenges - exercise being one of them. Its so tempting to just curl up under a warm blanket with a good book rather than go outside for a bike ride or run.

    But I digress...

    I thought I'd use this post to add to Chiot Run's post and Sadge's post (below)about line drying. I'm lucky enough to live in a place where line drying is still quite common. While most people do have dryers, it is rare to find someone who doesn't at some point during the year, line dry their laundry. And this goes for winter.

    Line drying in the winter is something I have taken for granted - something that you just *do*. In the winter, I tend to dry the clothes on drying racks. If its sunny (like today), I put it outside during the day, under my porch, where it is cold but the sun and wind can get to it, then bring it in at night. If its totally miserable outside, I just place the rack inside the house. It only takes about 24 hours for clothes to dry.

    Today's laundry under my porch

    I am lucky enough that its not unusual here for people to see each other's laundry drying in racks or on a clothes line. I didn't even realise it was such a big no no until I visited my relatives in the United States and I realised there was some sort of stigma over seeing each other's clothes drying on a line. I'm not exactly sure why there is that stigma. After all, we do see those clothes on their person, so why the shyness with it on a line?? As for underwear - well again, everyone wears them and its not like we're seeing dirty underwear. But, for those who can't quite get their head around others potentially seeing their underwear on a line, my mother has always hung hers in the middle of the line or middle of the drying rack so you can't see the underwear (unless if one is sorting through one's line, in which case, they must be a close enough friend or family to do so!).

    The other thing I have been asked by those living overseas is: "What about mold?" Well, in the 20 odd years of line drying in the winter, I've never had that problem. From my understanding, mold needs two things to grow - damp and warmth. Here in Australia's capital, winter is definitely not warm! For those who are really worried, you can presoak in cold water and vinegar then wash clothes on hot, with another vinegar rinse as a fabric softener before line drying. That apparently protect clothes against mold.

    Actually the only time I got mold in my clothes was in the tropics - and that was for clothes just hanging in the wardrobe! The high humidity and warmth got to the clothes....hmm....maybe I should try the vinegar/cold water trick then!

    Anyway, I'm off to cook a roast lamb now in the slow cooker (love winter food!) then curl up under a blanket and read a good book.

    I wish you all a good weekend!

    Friday, 10 June 2011

    Happy Hangin' Out

    by Sadge, at Firesign Farm
    I have to admit it. I like doing laundry - especially now that the weather is getting nicer and I can hang my clothes out on the clothesline again. First of all, it's a sensory thing: the light breeze on my face, sun on my shoulders, listening to the murmur of the chickens below me, the birds chirping above, the smell of whatever happens to be in bloom in the yard.

    Plus, I have a wonderful view over the top of my clothesline. In the morning, the air is usually crisp and crystal clear. Looking south, I love looking towards the snow-covered peaks on my horizon. Today, by mid-afternoon, the air's gotten a bit hazy - from both the humidity of the recent rain, and maybe a bit from fires burning in Arizona - but the mountains still shine in the sun.

    I like the orderliness of it all, too (same reason I like hand-washing my dishes, too). The ground slopes down beneath the clothesline. The re-aligned garden now means a corner of the (now higher, too, since Bambi found out our place had good eats) fence is pretty close to the direction things usually flap. Extra long things, like pants or my husband's long-sleeved shirts, are best hung closest to the pole where the line is highest. Next usually come t-shirts. Dark ones inside out, to reduce fading, I've found they look best later if doubled over the line to the armpits and clipped out smooth and straight, each apart from the other. Then the flat things that can be clipped edge to edge, to save on clothespins, graduating down in size as they get closer to that fence corner. Small stuff, like socks and underwear, usually end up on a small folding rack set up on the patio next to the house. That area is pretty much out of the wind, so clothespins aren't even necessary there.

    Lastly, and maybe best of all - I really enjoy my laundry accoutrements. My clothespin bag is a re-purposed bit of old cotton bed sheet. I didn't realize how rough and scratchy my old purchased generic one was, until I made this one. It's a pleasure reaching into it, the cotton soft and smooth against the inside of my wrist. Embroidered with a vintage "jumping clothes-peg" pattern from my mom, it still makes me smile each time I see it. My laundry basket is a wooden bushel basket, lined with a re-purposed piece of old vinyl tablecloth. With wire handles, it's sturdy, and just feels better to carry than a plastic one. The lining is getting pretty worn, though. I've patched a couple of tears with packing tape. One of these days, I'm going to make a new liner. I have a couple of old cotton pillowcases, worn thin in the middle but with lovely crocheted edging still in nice shape. I plan to make a cotton canvas liner for the basket, then use the pillowcase ends to make the decorative outside flap. Laundry day, even nicer!

    Friday, 5 November 2010

    Crinkle Skirt Care

    by Sadge, at Firesign Farm
    The crinkle skirt, sometimes called a broomstick skirt, is a staple in many women's wardrobes. And for good reason - the full, but pleated, skirt flatters almost any figure, the cotton fabric is cool and breezy in summer but wears just as well in winter with sweaters, tights and boots, and the lightweight cotton fabric is easy to wash and dries quickly. But once washed, how to get, and keep, those nice, vertical crinkles?

    I've seen posts that suggest wringing and twisting the damp skirt, but that leaves crinkles that look more wadded than vertical. Other posts say to tie the skirt with lengths of string, then cut them once dry. Besides being time-consuming, this can leave the crinkles uneven, and I'd be afraid of possibly snipping fabric instead of string. Some wrap the skirt around a broomstick before tying, hence the now-common broomstick name for such skirts. But I prefer the old-fashioned method.

    I learned the secret of perfect crinkles when I inherited a 1950's Albuquerque fiesta dress - the original crinkle skirt fashion. Its solid-color red cotton fabric is heavier than today's lightweight skirts, to hold up to the rows of rick rack and ribbon. When I ended up with my aunt's blouse and skirt combo, she had kept the skirt encased in a nylon stocking with the toe snipped off, the crinkles perfectly formed and maintained. Eureka!

    Of course, nylon stockings are a bit harder to come by now, so I reuse snipped-off legs from tights or pantyhose. After hand-washing your skirt, holding the skirt by the waistband rolled together, squeeze out (don't wring or twist) as much water as possible, down the length of the skirt. Since the fiesta dress is such heavy material, I'll hang it up by the waistband to drip-dry a just a bit - you want the skirt to still be damp to dry crinkled. Stretch the pantyhose leg down the length of the damp skirt, pulling the hem down equally, and hang or lay out your skirt "sausage" to dry. It will dry that way without any further fuss, but I usually take the skirt out, shake it, and re-encase the skirt a time or two to make sure it gets completely dry. The clean skirts then stay in their stocking cases in my closet, either hanging or laid out horizontally, to keep their pleats from flattening. Easy-peasy perfect pleats, every time.

    Wednesday, 7 July 2010

    Homemade Laundry Soap

    by Abby of Love Made the Radish Grow

    I am so, so very picky about how my laundry smells and how I wash it. It has taken a while, and quite the journey through mainstream detergents (I used the free and clear varieties there), to organic/natural ones, to now just making it myself. People don't really realize that clean laundry should smell just that-clean. Mainstream cleaners use so much unnecessary stuff to perfume the laundry, then you add the softeners (anyone heard of vinegar?) and the softeners sheets, and it is intense! I cannot stand to wear clothes or really even be around them, if they have been washed conventionally anymore. It hurts my nose. Clean is that fresh smell when there is an absence of other smells that were previously in the fabric-an easy smell to find when washing things like your husband's work clothes or dirty diapers.

    The formula I like to use for my clothes is from here. Very easy. I use their actual brand of laundry soap bars for the soap I use on diapers as it uses less oils in it, thus giving me less to rinse out of the diaper, thus cleaner diaper. I am less picky for our day to day stuff. I use whatever natural/locally made soap I find. It is actually great for the ends of soap. I can grate them up and toss them in and not, instead, get them caught in my hair while shampooing. Like I mentioned before, if you think you need a rinse or softener, just put vinegar in the same slot you would put regular stuff, but not just in with the soap. This negates the effects of the oils in the soap, which help with the cleaning action. It has to come in its own time. We dry our laundry on a line as much as possible, though with the rain here lately, the dryer has seen a little more action. I also have an indoor rack I use, but with the amount of laundry we've had from some basement water/lightning fire issues, it hasn't been enough. Drying outside adds another hint of fresh to the clothes, as well as softening if it is nice and breezy out.
    Here is the basic laundry soap can add essential oils or just use a soap with them if you like for added hints of fragrance.

    Handmade Herbal Laundry Detergent
    approx 4 oz. grated soap (comes out to about a standard sized bar)
    2 cups borax
    2 cups washing soda
    1 cup baking soda 
    essential oils (optional)

    Combine all ingredients in a widemouth container with a lid. (I use a recycled ice cream bucket). Add essential oils as desired (but they are not necessary). Use 1 tbsp to 1/4 cup per load of laundry.
    Notes on ingredients: You can use any kind of soap - non-superfatted handmade soaps are wonderful! I just grate mine with a cheesegrater. Washing soda can be difficult to find in some areas of the world, I understand - usually it is found in the laundry detergent aisle of a supermarket. If you cannot find it, ask a store manager to order it for you. This recipe is VERY inexpensive and I have found it to work really well!

    Monday, 27 July 2009

    My Cloth Revolution

    by Colleen

    Over the past year and a half, I have been a Cloth Revolutionary at my house. Little by little, disposable paper items are disappearing from our landscape, only to be replaced by colourful, reusable Cloth replacements.

    The first step in our Cloth Revolution was the switch to cloth diapers. We did this when our daughter was 11 months old, after visiting with some friends whose daughter was using cloth. The cloth diapers seemed so cute and cozy, and more "natural" than the crinkly perfumed plastic ones we were using. I was nervous about the workload, but found them not to be that much work. We have a small washer that plugs into our sink, and we dry them (as pictured) on our collapsable drying rack.

    The main benefit I saw right away was cost. We went with cotton prefold diapers, which are about the cheapest you can go, and we used some high-tech fleece-lined, microfibre-insert pocket style diapers for night time. I think the four night time diapes cost around the same as our two dozen prefolds with four or five covers. It has been great not to worry about having to drive out to Costco to get the best deal on diapers.

    My next Revolutionary Act was to replace my tampons and pads with a set of beautiful, comfortable, reusable Lunapads. This was after doing some reading about how tampons have dioxins in them left over from the bleaching process, which can then be absorbed into your body when you use them. Also, after having my baby, I found them uncomfortable to use, and pads were bulky and expensive.

    As the stickers say, "I ♥ my lunapads"! They are so comfortable and beautiful. The nicest thing about them is that I never run out! I had bought myself an "Intro kit", and then after using them for a couple of months, I got another kit to round out my collection. It has a good selection of sizes, thicknesses, etc. for different stages of my cycle. My only disappointment is that I got pregnant again right after my second kit arrived! At least I know they are waiting for me when I start my cycle again.

    Next I replaced paper towels with cloth napkins. On a trip to Sudbury to visit my parents I stopped into an adorable new store called Mimi & Lulu. They have all sorts of beautiful handmade clothes, aprons, bags, toys and crafts, as well as a selection of fabrics so beautiful I thought I was looking at a magazine or something. I honestly don't think I've seen such gorgeous fabric in stores, ever.

    The best thing (for me) was their remnant bags, a bunch of colour-co-ordinated fabric bits from their collection, mixed with some cute vintage finds, all for $13. Inside was enough fabric (in the right size) to make more than 10 napkins, some of which I kept & use, and some of which I gave away as gifts.

    It's so nice to use cloth napkins, especially ones in such cute fabrics. They seem to add a touch of class to every meal.

    Home-Made Toilet PaperThe next item is a bit more . . . unusual, and I hesitate to mention it in my first post on the Simple, Green, Frugal Co-op, but here goes: the next paper product I replaced was toilet paper. Well, not entirely, but I made some lovely wipes that my daughter and I use for #1. Being pregnant and having to drink a lot of water, this saves me a huge amount of toilet paper. I just throw them in with the diapies and wash them often.

    My most recent Revolutionary change was to make some cloth kleenex (tissues). Once again, so cute! Once again, so comfortable! I made them from some cloth I had in mystash, so I consider them basically free to me. We haven't yet been through a major cold or flu with these, but I will report back on how they fare. I just throw them in any wash I'm doing (except for darks!) and they stay nice and absorbant.

    Besides these recent changes, I have always used cloth rags for cleaning rather than paper towels or even J-cloths. It's a great way to re-purpose old towels and t-shirts, and if a rag gets too dirty, I just throw it away.

    For me, this process has been about saving money, being green, and more importantly, finding a better product to replace the cheap disposables in my life. If you have replaced something I've missed, please let me know! I'm always open to making more frugal & green changes in my life, and sharing them with the world.

    Sunday, 31 May 2009

    Cleaning your house with... lemons!

    Bu Julie,
    Towards Sustainability

    My apologies to those of you in the northern hemisphere, but here in Australia it's citrus season, and traditionally, no Aussie backyard is complete without a lemon tree! Although they are becoming far less common than they used to be, it is still not unusual to see large grocery bags groaning with lemons being given away in offices and over the back fence.

    So, once you've satisfied your cravings for lemonade, lemon curd, lemon meringue pie and every other variation of lemon possible, did you know that lemons are a fantastic addition to your simple, green, frugal cleaning arsenal?

    Tip: To get more juice from your lemons, microwave them briefly before juicing, or roll them briskly on the counter top with the palm of your hand to warm them up.

    Meyer Lemons

    Lemon juice is quite acidic, hence the sour taste. If fresh lemons are unavilable, oftentimes you can substitute vinegar for the lemon juice in some of the cleaning solutions, as it also acidic. The citric acid in lemons makes fresh lemon juice a natural mild antiseptic and mould killer. It is also a terrific grease cutter and deodoriser, so you could try any the following hints and tips.

    1. Make an oven cleaner. Use a paste of 1 part lemon juice and 1 part rock salt to clean your oven. Apply the paste thickly and leave for 5-10 minutes. Wipe away with a coarse cloth and hot water, rubbing gently to remove tough grease spots.

    2. Clean your copperware. Use a paste made from lemon juice and table salt to clean copper pots. Rub it on with a cloth and then buff with a clean cloth to shine.

    3. Clean your silverware and brassware. Rub on straight lemon juice to bring back a shine to your silverware or to buff your brassware.

    4. Clean and freshen your dishwasher. Cut a lemon in half and stick it on an upright in your dishwasher tray or add ¼ cup lemon juice to the soap dispenser before running a cycle, to remove grease deposits and make your saucepans shine.

    5. Remove soap scum, calcium and lime deposits from your stainless steel or porcelain sink. Rub the cut surface of a lemon over the boards and taps and leave for a minute or so. Then buff with a clean cloth. For tough stains, soak a cloth with juice and leave to sit over the stain or deposit to soak.

    6. Clean the interior of your microwave oven. Add a few tablespoons of lemon juice to a glass of water and heat for five minutes on High. Let the steam soak for a few minutes, then wipe the interior with a cloth.

    7. Remove coffee stains from cups. Rub coffee cups with a paste of lemon juice and salt to remove stains.

    8. Remove dried cheese from a grater. Rub with half a lemon until the dried cheese softens and comes away.

    9. Remove stains and odours from your hands. Rub your hands with a paste of lemon juice and salt to remove beetroot and berry stains or onion and garlic smells.

    10. Remove odours from your refrigerator. Leave a cut lemon in a shallow bowl in your fridge to remove odours.

    11. Remove stains from Laminate and Formica counter tops. Rub the cut surface of a lemon on your counter tops and dry with a clean cloth. For stains, let the juice sit for a few minutes, sprinkle with bicarb soda and then rub gently and rinse with clean water.

    12. Freshen and remove stains and odours from your cutting boards. Rub with a cut lemon or a paste of lemon juice and salt and then wash clean with hot water.

    13. Clean your windows and shower screens with lemon juice (the juice cuts through soap scum). Buff dry with scrunched up newspaper to make them sparkle.

    14. Use lemon juice to whiten the ivory handles on your old cutlery.

    15. Add a teaspoon of juice to your humidifier to eliminate household odours.

    16. Run a couple of fresh lemon peels through your garbage disposal unit to clean and freshen it.

    17. Dry your lemon peels and store them in an airtight container. Throw them on a fire and enjoy the fragrance, scatter around entrances and kitchen window sills to deter ants and cockroaches, use them in pot pourri, add them to your vacuum cleaner bag to scent the house while you vacuum or hang them in a muslin bag in your wardrobe to help repel bugs from clothing.

    18. Make a furniture polish. Mix 2 parts olive oil with 1 part lemon juice. Add a few drops to a clean cloth and rub gently on your timber furniture, then buff with a dry cloth. Make up the mixture fresh each time.

    19. Make an all-purpose spray cleaner.
    Cleaner #1 - In a spray bottle, mix two tablespoons lemon juice, ½ teaspoon liquid soap, ½ teaspoon washing soda, and one teaspoon borax in two cups of hot water. Shake until dissolved.
    Cleaner #2 - Mix lemon juice, vinegar and water in a spray bottle.

    Lemon juice is also a natural bleaching agent, which makes it also very handy in the laundry.

    20. Apply lemon juice to ink stains immediately, leave to soak and then wash as normal in cold water to remove the stain.

    21. Apply a paste of lemon juice or salt or cream of tartar to rust stains on colorfast clothing and then leave to dry in the sun. Repeat if necessary to remove the rust stain.

    22. Whiten tennis shoes by applying lemon juice and then leaving to dry in the sun.

    23. Add ¼ cup lemon juice to the rinse cycle of your washing machine to brighten your whites.

    24. Make a homemade bleach from a mixture of lemon juice and bicarb soda - soak for half an hour before washing.

    25. Use a paste of lemon juice and salt to remove mildew stains from fabric - scrub and then dry in sunlight.

    So, there you have it! Twenty-five ways to use lemons to clean your home, although I'm sure there are more, so what are your favourite ways to use lemons around the home?

    Saturday, 16 May 2009

    Green methods for removing common stains from clothing.

    By Julie
    Towards Sustainability

    It makes good sense to look after your clothes to prolong their useful life as long as possible. As a mother with three young children though, I have a constant battle with a variety of stains on their clothing! So I thought today it might be useful to share some methods for removing stains from machine-washable clothing, using commonly available ingredients. I keep a notebook to jot down methods as I come across them in magazines, books or the internet, and asterix the ones that work well to use next time. As always, use your judgement when spot-cleaning any item of clothing and if you think it might not be colorfast, test a small hidden area first (like a hem) and be as gentle as possible with more delicate or printed items.

    I also try to avoid using methods which require specialised products like dry-cleaning fluid or white spirits as two of us have very sensitive skin, and for environmental reasons I prefer the simpler, the better. Usually, my first line of defence for dried stains is to soak in an oxygen bleach prewash such as NapiSan or OxiClean (although I use a cheaper generic version of these), and then move on to other stain removal methods for persistant stains, while the garment is still wet.

    Firstly, note that all spills should - ideally - be seen to as soon as possible for the best chance of removal. When that isn't possible, or you don't have the time (or the energy) to deal with it, rinse the item in COLD water and leave it to soak until you can get to it.

    Secondly, heat will invariably set stains, making them very difficult, if not impossible, to remove. If you miss a stain when you are washing your clothes as normal, but notice it when removing it from the machine, deal with it while it is still wet. The heat from drying the item in the sun, in the dryer or ironing it, will usually set it.

    Thirdly, if you can, work from the back of the stain to the front so that you don't accidentally force the stain further into the fabric. For most clothing items therefore, turn them inside out and rinse from the back. Treat delicate items with appropriate care; don't rub vigorously.

    Lastly, if you can't remove a stain, don't throw the garment away immediately - it may be possible to save the garment with some creative sewing! Eilleen for example, has covered up stains on her children's clothing using applique, fabric paint and buttons. Oh and a word about hairspray and perfume - these are commonly discussed online as being good for removing certain stains, but it is the alcohol in them that does the job. Go for rubbing alcohol in preference if you can, as hairspray and perfume contain other ingredients which can make the stain worse in some cases.

    Ballpoint pen: Cover fresh stains with salt to absorb as much of the ink as possible, and then soak in milk before washing as usual. If you know that the fabric is colorfast, you can use a paste made from cream of tartar and lemon juice. Apply to the stain and leave for 30 minutes before rinsing and washing. If you aren't sure, test the paste on a hidden section of fabric like the hem, first.

    Beetroot: For fresh stains, rinse as much juice from the item with cool water as possible. Then soak a piece of white bread in cool water, place over the stain and leave to absorb the stain. Wash as normal in cool water. If it has dried, rub the stain gently from the outside edges inwards with glycerine, or try soaking it in white vinegar. Rinse and wash as normal.

    Blood: Wash as much of the stain out as possible with cold running water. Rub the remaining stain with a bar of pure soap until removed, and launder with your normal powder or liquid in cold water. For dried stains on colorfast items, soak in cold water first to loosen the stain, then apply a paste made of 6 tablespoons baking soda and 1/2 cup water. Work it in a little and leave to sit for 30 minutes to an hour, then wash as normal in cold water.

    Chocolate: Rinse in cold water, then scrub with a cake of pure soap and cold water to remove the brown stain. Then to remove the oil stain, rub with a cake of pure soap in hot water. Rinse and wash as normal.

    Coffee and tea: Soak in a solution of 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water. Wash on a cold cycle and hang in the sun to dry.

    Crayon: Mix two drops of tea tree oil with one teaspoon of dishwashing liquid and then massage gently into the stain with your fingers. Rinse and wash as usual.

    Curry powder/ turmeric: Wipe with a small amount of lavender oil before washing as usual.

    Fruit juice: Wash in white vinegar and then hang in the sunshine to dry. Many fruit stains are UV sensitive and will break down with exposure to sunlight. Dark fruit stains like stone fruits may benefit from rubbing with glycerine first.

    Grass: Try soaking the item in full strength vinegar for half an hour before washing. If stains remain, try sponging the stain gently with rubbing alcohol before rewashing.

    Grease and greasy stains: Cover fresh stains immediately with salt to blot up the excess oil. Brush off gently and dab any remaining stains with vinegar, or gently rub a small amount of dishwashing liquid into the stain. Wash as usual.

    Marker pens: Try dabbing gently with methylated spirits, changing the cloth frequently to remove the marker. Wash as usual.

    Mud: Allow to dry and brush off as much as possible (you can even try the vacuum cleaner nozzle). Rub liquid detergent into the remaining stain and allow to soak, rubbing occasionally, for 30 minutes, then wash as normal.

    Paint: With water-based paints, try rubbing the mark with dishwashing liquid or dab the stain gently with methylated spirits. Rinse and wash as usual. For acrylic paints, dab with turpentine or gently apply rubbing alcohol with a toothbrush. Rinse thoroughly and wash as usual.

    Rust and mildew: Make a paste of lemon juice and salt and apply to the stain. Leave to sit for 30 minutes - if the garment is white leave it in the sun (don't do this with coloured garments as it will bleach the fabric). Rinse and allow to dry (but not in a dryer). Repeat if necessary.

    Soft drink/ soda: Treat as per fruit juice stains (most soft drink dyes are vegetable-based).

    Tomatoes: Sunlight! Wash the item as normal, and then hang right-side out in the sun. Like many fruit stains, tomato stains are UV-sensitive and will fade to nothing with exposure to the sun. Many a bolognaise-stained white shirt has been saved this way at my house ;-)

    Clearly, this list is by no means exhaustive. If you are looking for methods to remove other stains, try Googling it as there is a wealth of information out there on the internet! And if you have other simple, green and frugal stain removal techniques, please share them with us in the comments section :-)